Miranda

Miranda Technologies Success Story

Driving Down Carbon Emissions and Operational Costs in the Cable Television and Satellite Service Industry

As you settle in on a Saturday night to watch a great movie on Pay-Per-View, or catch a game on your favorite sports channel, carbon emissions likely don’t cross your mind.  Like the more than 100 million cable and satellite TV subscribers in North America, you look forward to watching your favorite program.  But when there is an issue with broadcast quality, or worse, an interruption of service, disappointed customers are quick to take to the phones to report the problem and demand a fix.  Cable and satellite providers spend tens of millions of dollars each year dispatching technicians to customer locations to diagnose issues and restore service. 

In the telecommunications and broadcast world, the deployment of such a specialist to a client site is called a ‘truck roll’ – and every time a truck is dispatched, it generates carbon dioxide.  In fact, every gallon of gas a truck burns emits almost 20 pounds of this greenhouse gas – and in the multibillion dollar television service distribution industry, tens of thousands of repair vans and utility trucks hit the road each year.  It is prompting a Québec ICT company to demonstrate global industry leadership, and develop technology-based solutions that reduce carbon emissions from truck rolls – and save cable and satellite companies millions of dollars in operational costs.  It is an important venture.  The elimination of just one truck roll per week per truck for every 1,000 trucks on the road could eliminate 1.1 million pounds of carbon emissions annually.  This green ICT R&D project is led by Miranda Technologies, a Belden Brand and a leading worldwide provider of hardware and software solutions for television broadcast, cable, satellite and IPTV.  And it is a critical part of the Equation Project coordinated by Prompt.

With more than 20 years in the business, Miranda has acquired deep knowledge of the television distribution industry.  With the launch of the Equation Project 18 months ago, the firm conducted an in-depth investigation of how broadcast, cable and satellite companies monitor television signals from within their network operations centre (NOC).  A key learning: the engineers who are accountable for service delivery have little to no visibility of customer impacting signal problems inside the NOC. To properly diagnose and resolve a signal problem, they must often be on site with the customer.  This often takes hours – and it takes a truck roll.

Leveraging funding from the Government of Québec through the Equation Project, and building on existing technology, Miranda is developing a novel real-time television signal monitoring system for cable and satellite providers.  Known as iControl Headend, this software-based innovation allows network operators to remotely surveillance and manage television signals as they travel across their distribution path.

This three-year Equation Project features four R&D components that work together to create an integrated solution.  Once complete, the product will monitor thousands of channels simultaneously and provide network operators with enhanced capabilities in:

  • Visualization, allowing engineers to see the television signal;
  • Probing, enabling the real-time assessment of the integrity and quality of the signal;
  • Network management, helping to put massive network data to work in highly effective and intelligent ways; and
  • Signal analysis, facilitating the rapid detection and diagnosis of problems with the broadcast signal.

Progress

Over the last 18 months, this Equation team has achieved a series of key R&D milestones, including the development of new visualization software and probing instrumentation.  To realize some of these goals, Miranda partnered with Québec SMEs such as Nuum Design Inc. and Savoir-faire Linux, and the Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec (CRIQ).  These collaborators contributed to the development of important new hardware and software elements that improve the usability, configuration and installation of the system.

With a strong customer focus, Miranda conducted a first test with some major US cable operators.  The pilots proved highly successful, enabling network operators to diagnose signal problems far more rapidly, whittling down troubleshooting time from hours to minutes.

Next Steps

During the remainder of the project, Miranda will focus on the creation of network management and signal analysis tools that enhance system efficiency and further reduce energy consumption.  To achieve these objectives, the firm will collaborate with researchers at ÉTS.

According to Dr. Stéphane Coulombe, Professor at ÉTS, “We look forward to working with Miranda and contributing our expertise in advanced video identification and visual quality monitoring to this Equation sub-project.  We aim to further enhance the diagnostic capabilities of the iControl Headend system, and help operators identify video quality issues and their root cause as quickly as possible.  This research will provide our team and collaborating students with challenging work, and invaluable experience with a leading Montréal-based firm.”

Going forward, Miranda aims to continually decrease the power requirements and physical footprint of the system.  This will enable operators to reduce their energy consumption, while maximizing available space within the NOC.  Once complete, the company will promote this technology to all major cable and satellite companies.  When implemented, this novel technology will help cable and satellite providers to streamline their workflow and optimize operations.

“Environmental sustainability has always been a part of Miranda’s DNA,” says Mr. Laurent Ruel, Miranda’s Vice-President of Management and Control Systems.  “We consistently strive to develop green technologies that enable our customers to achieve a triple bottom line comprised of economic, social and environmental benefits.  For example, the estimated average financial cost of dispatching a truck roll is $100 per hour, and the environmental cost can be hundreds of tons of carbon a day.  iControl Headend will enable service providers to save millions of dollars and reduce carbon emissions from truck rolls by at least 5%.

Conclusion

According to Guy Langlois, Director of Project Management at Miranda, “Equation is enabling us to evolve our second generation iControl system into a comprehensive and environmentally friendly solution for the television industry.  The funding provided by the Government of Québec has significantly accelerated this R&D project by enabling us to create eight new highly skilled positions in engineering.  These people would not be here without Equation.  In addition to this investment, we consistently benefit from Prompt’s R&D collaboration expertise and experience as the Equation Project Coordinator.  This is particularly important as we grow our R&D partnerships with ÉTS and local SMEs, and cooperate on the development of new capabilities for this system.”